Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives voted 216 to 210 yesterday to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position. The vote was instigated by a group of hard-line Republican Party members, and it was the first time in modern history of the House of Representatives that such a vote passed. The House speaker is next in line of succession for the presidency after the vice president.

The effort to oust the speaker, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, was incited by McCarthy’s reliance last weekend on Democrats to pass a temporary spending bill to keep the government open until mid-November. The rebellion prompted an extraordinary Republican-against-Republican debate on the House floor over McCarthy’s future before the final vote.

There is no clear replacement for McCarthy, and the vacancy essentially paralyzes the House until one is chosen, according to several procedural experts. The House and the Senate must pass appropriations bills to fund the federal government before mid-November or there will be a shutdown.

Background: In January, McCarthy made concessions to hard-line conservatives to get elected as speaker, allowing any member to move to vacate the position — virtually assuring that it would occur.

On a call with global leaders, including the prime ministers of Britain, Italy and Poland, and the leaders of NATO, the European Commission and the European Council, President Biden said that he remained confident that Congress would approve aid for Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” in spite of opposition among some Republicans that blocked funding over the weekend.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said that Biden had told the leaders that “we cannot under any circumstances” allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted, adding, “Time is not our friend.”

Biden, his top aides and congressional Democrats and Republicans have said they are confident that further financial commitments will be agreed to in a final spending bill. But the failure to include more aid for Ukraine in the bill the House and Senate passed highlighted the decreasing willingness of some Republicans to fund Kyiv’s war effort.

“Elastic defense”: Russian forces have been ceding ground to Ukraine and then striking back. The goal is to prevent Ukrainian troops from securing a position to be used a base for further advances.

Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier were awarded physics’ top prize for techniques that illuminate the subatomic realm of electrons, providing a new perspective into a previously unexplored domain.

Electrons’ high speed has long made them impossible to study. The new experimental techniques created by the three scientist-laureates use light pulses that last a tiny fraction of a second to capture an electron’s movement at a single moment in time.

Nonfungible tokens: How soccer’s digital asset projects dived in value.

A reader asked Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic, this question — and whether smiling on the runway had ever been the norm.

“Designers do sometimes ask their models to smile,” Vanessa responds. But, she adds, “It’s awfully hard to maintain a believable expression of great joy when you are walking in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of strangers, all there to render their judgment on what you are wearing.”

Then, of course, there’s the discomfort of ill-fitting shoes, the blinding flash of cameras and being too hot or too cold. Read more from her answer.

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